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2011 Las Vegas Bowl Recap

Arizona State Sun Devils vs Boise State Broncos - Boise State 56, Arizona State 24

The outcome could have been different, in which case a different narrative would have been written in summation of the 2011 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. However, the Boise State Broncos thrashed the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday night at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Because the Boise bunch blew out a 6-6 Pac-12 team (now 6-7 as it slinks away into the netherworld of the offseason), so many of the predictable and anticipated pregame storylines can be unfurled in actual postgame recaps.

As predicted, Boise State didn’t get much of a game from an Arizona State team playing with precious little passion for lame-duck coach Dennis Erickson, a football lifer who wheezed to the end of a generally successful career. Erickson won multiple national championships at the University of Miami and led Oregon State to a resounding victory over Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Erickson made multiple coaching stops in the NFL, and in his first season at Arizona State, he led the Devils to a 10-2 regular season. However, over the past four seasons, the accomplished coach couldn’t maintain much of any momentum in the Valley of the Sun, and that’s why he was canned late in the 2011 regular season. Erickson’s career is likely over, rich in achievement but also tainted by the scandal he left behind at Miami plus his embarrassing one-year stay at Idaho, where he plainly took advantage of the Vandals’ program to vault back into the power-conference realm. All in all, it was hardly a shock that Boise State drilled an ASU crew which knew it was getting a new boss for 2012, Todd Graham.

Because it was no surprise that Boise State won by a huge margin, it can safely be said once again that the Broncos were not treated fairly by the bowl system. Coach Chris Petersen’s club deserved to play in a big-time bowl… maybe not a BCS bowl, but certainly a far more visible game played in January in a larger stadium against a quality opponent. Kansas State probably deserved a BCS bowl bid more than Boise State did, but Michigan did not. At the very least, a fairer bowl system would have enabled the Broncos and quarterback Kellen Moore to play a team like South Carolina or Michigan State in front o a substantial national television audience. The failure of the bowl system to give Boise State a better bowl and a more formidable opponent represents a black mark on college football’s postseason structure.

This game was never in doubt. Boise State rolled to a 21-0 lead with 12:03 left in the second quarter and never led by fewer than 18 points after that point in time. Arizona State had a chance to trim its deficit to 28-17 midway through the third quarter, but on fourth and goal from the Boise 1, ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler threw an interception that BSU’s Jamar Taylor returned for a pick-six, and that was all she wrote. A matchup between an elite team and a .500 team turned out as expected. Arizona State… and cheated college football fans deprived of a better Boise State bowl matchup… all lost.

By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

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